Boy Swallows Universe – Trent Dalton

40717567._SY475_.jpgThis coming-of-age drama follows the life of Eli Bell, growing up in Brisbane with his mute brother, drug-dealing stepfather and notorious criminal babysitter. Life doesn’t seem too bad, until Eli’s stepfather vanishes, his mother gets arrested and he and his brother have to go and live with their drunk father. And the complications don’t stop there.

The plot of Boy Swallows Universe was a bit intense and slow to develop for me. I actually considered DNF-ing it a few times. The book isn’t bad at all; it’s interesting and well-written with unique and likeable characters, but it did feel very long and slow and it took me a really long time to get into it.

However, I’m glad I stuck with it, because Eli Bell was one of my all-time favourite book characters. He had a truly fantastic narrative voice, managing to be funny, relatable and extremely likeable throughout the book. There were also a lot of other excellent characters. Augustus (Eli’s brother) was very interesting with some unexpected complexities, and I completely adored Caitlyn Spies and Slim. Eli’s relationship with Brisbane’s most notorious criminal was one of the most endearing things I’ve ever read.

This novel is full of life, love and surprises. It’s worth the effort.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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The Gods of Love – Nicola Mostyn

38333559._SY475_When a strange man bursts into Frida’s office claiming that she is a descendent of Eros, the god of love, and destined to save the world, Frida has him removed by security and laughs the whole thing off. But after a weird meeting and an attempted kidnapping, Frida starts to think that maybe the man calling himself the Oracle was telling the truth.

Usually, I love any book based on mythology, but this one really wasn’t that great. I think it was the comparison to Bridget Jones and Neil Gaiman that got me: it’s really nothing like either. Granted, The Gods of Love would fall under the same genre as Bridget Jones, being a typical comedy/romance novel with a feisty female lead, but it simply doesn’t have Jones’ heart and wit. The comparison to Gaiman honestly makes no sense to me whatsoever. So it has some gods and some mythology in it; it takes a lot more than that to be anything at all like one of Gaiman’s books.

That being said, there’s nothing wrong with what it is, once the false comparisons are removed. As far as books of this genre go, this one certainly wasn’t bad, but it could have been so much better.

The story is fun and fast-paced, with a good amount of magic and fantasy thrown in there. Despite love being a prominent theme throughout the book, the romantic element between the characters is quite slow-build and not overdone. I liked that the story wasn’t all about the relationship between Dan and Frida, largely because I struggled to feel the chemistry between them a lot of the time. It rather felt like they were forced together for the sake of having a romantic story-line in a book about love.

Frida herself, I didn’t love. She was clearly supposed to be a strong, kick-ass female, but to be honest I found her a little bit annoying.

The Gods of Love is a light and decent enough read. It isn’t bad, but it isn’t special.

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Almost Adults – Ali Pantony

45863509._SY475_Mackie, Edele, Alex and Nat are four best friends, desperately trying to navigate their 20s together. With breakups, new jobs, new relationships and major decisions, growing up can get messy, but at least they have each other.

As a 24-year-old woman, Almost Adults is one of the most relatable books I’ve read. It is funny and charming, and a very accurate representation of female friendship, with a lot of emphasis on the importance of having people you can rely on in your lowest moments.

The story follows all four women, as they each try to get through their own individual dramas. Nat, dealing with a breakup and learning to live on her own; Edele, trying to find a job and move out of her mum’s house; Mackie, deciding whether she’s ready to make a big move for her career; and Alex, watching the breakdown of her best friend’s relationship and becoming convinced that her own boyfriend is cheating on her. These are very realistic problems and the girls all have believable personalities, so it felt like I could have been reading about real people.

My one criticism would be that the girls didn’t have distinct voices. Although each clearly had their own narrative features to make it clear whose perspective each chapter was written from, the actual voices sounded the same across the whole book. I would have liked for the girls to have had more individual voices to distinguish between them, rather than just narrative methods such as lists, etc.

I would definitely recommend this book to all 20-something women looking for an enjoyable read.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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War of Mist – Helen Scheuerer

44780383._SY475_Following on from the events in book #2, Reign of Mist, tensions are running high across the realm. Bleak and Casimir are searching for the one thing that might give them an advantage over Ines, while the others are preparing for battle.

The Oremere Chronicles has been one of my all-time favourite fantasy series. It has everything: magic, action, humour, spunky characters, giant wild cats, friendship, betrayal, epic battles, a little bit of romance, fantastic world building and great plot development.

There are so many strong female characters. These books are very feminist and filled to the brim with powerful women, but the male characters aren’t pushed to the side or forgotten. Every single character brings something significant to the story, and they all have unique, memorable personalities despite there being so many different characters. I could go on for hours about each character individually, but my best advice would be to read the book and fall in love with them yourself.

There is a teeny bit of romance, but that is very much a minor element in the plot. It was actually a cross between very enjoyable and quite frustrating because I shipped everyone in this book. Especially Bleak – I shipped her with almost every other character: Dash, Bren, Fiore, Cazimir, Henri, even Swinton once or twice. To be honest, I think I’d have been happy with any outcome on that front.

Being the third and final part of the trilogy, the story comes to an eventful – and at times traumatic – climax. I won’t spoil it, but prepare to weep in between moments of triumph.

Overall, this series was truly excellent. I loved every second of all three books, and War of Mist did not let the series down at all. It might even have been my favourite. I can’t wait to see what Helen Scheuerer comes up with next.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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